It’s been a whirlwind holiday season so far for Corey LaJoie.
First, Go Fas Racing announced Thursday that LaJoie will drive the team’s No. 32 Ford full-time in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series next season. That professional news precedes a big event on the personal side: tying the knot with his fiancée, Kelly, in the coming week.
“This is the best holiday ever,” LaJoie said. “I’m really excited about it. Just, God’s got me in a really good point in my life right now.”
LaJoie, 27, will replace Matt DiBenedetto, the team’s driver for the last two seasons. LaJoie was introduced at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, where the Archie St. Hilaire-owned organization also unveiled a show car to highlight sponsorship from Keen Parts, Schluter Systems and ZAK Products.
LaJoie has 57 starts in NASCAR’s top series spread over three seasons. After a season at BK Racing, LaJoie shifted to TriStar Motorsports for the 2018 campaign, splitting time with Cole Whitt in the No. 72 Chevrolet.
Those roles with lesser-funded teams came after paying his dues with various odds-and-ends jobs to keep his hand in motorsports. In the last handful of years, LaJoie has served as a crew chief for driver David Mayhew in the K&N Pro Series, manufacturing racing seats for his father’s business, and was offered a position as a car chief by Chad Knaus within the Hendrick Motorsports pipeline. Ultimately, LaJoie still felt the itch to be behind the wheel.
“There were times where Sunday nights, I was just wondering what I was doing,” LaJoie said. “You know, if I should go back welding seats or go be a crew chief. Man, there was a lot of obstacles to get to being a full-time Cup driver. If I need to be careful, I might make a career out of this thing before long. I don’t think there’s been any other Cup guys that were flying out to K&N West Series, crew chiefing for any guys three years ago. To rewind now, it’s pretty crazy.”
PHOTOS: First look at 2019 Ford Mustang
St. Hilaire said that his contract with LaJoie called for a one-year deal, a length of time that he said has been customary with his organization. The team owner said he’ll also receive some technical assistance from Ford and that he’ll have pit-crew service next season from Team Penske, a switch from Hendrick Motorsports in order to maintain manufacturer unity.
St. Hilaire added that he was open to expanding to a second Monster Energy Series team on a part-time basis, but that for now, his focus was on adapting to a new rules package in 2019 and building a relationship with LaJoie.
“We’re a blue-collar race team and Corey’s a blue-collar driver,” St. Hilaire said. “He can build a car, he can fix a car, and he can drive a car. I think that’s exciting.”
LaJoie has three ARCA Racing Series wins and six victories in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, where he was the series’ runner-up in 2012. He was selected for the NASCAR Next class of rising stock-car talent in 2011 and 2012, the program’s first two seasons.
DiBenedetto ended up 29th in the final Monster Energy Series standings last season, notching a best finish of seventh in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona in July. He was announced in October as the full-time driver next year for Leavine Family Racing, replacing Kasey Kahne in the No. 95.
LaJoie and DiBenedetto both were chosen for the NASCAR Next roster in its first year, when the initiative was known as Next 9. Five of the nine drivers in that initial class are now Monster Energy Series regulars.